The sales revenue from wearable technology like smartwatches is predicted to be more than $44 billion this year, and more than $59 billion in 2021. There’s no doubt that this industry is showing growth and gaining popularity. Wearable tech was named the number one fitness trend in 2020, as it was in 2019, and the advantages of these devices are hailed every day. In the age of coronavirus, wearable tech has helped fitness enthusiasts keep track of their activity in lieu of going to the gym, and these devices are even being touted as a great way to track Covid-19 symptoms.
Now, researchers have found that the influence wearable technology has on behaviour of users is so profound, it could literally add years to their lives. According to a study of behavioural technology involving 400 000 participants, fitness trackers that link to reward schemes led to an increase of more than a third in activity levels, which amounts to roughly two years extra on their life expectancy.
The study was commissioned by the UK-based health insurer VitalityHealth, a subsidiary of Discovery Limited. South Africans will already be acquainted with the company’s business model, which utilises psychological incentives based and behavioural economics.
In this, the largest-ever study of its kind, participants with an Apple watch were required to make monthly payments of up to £12.50 (approximately R268), depending on their activity levels. If they reached all their exercise targets, they didn’t have to pay anything.
Participants with the trackers had an average of 4.8 days of activity a month, compared to the 3.5 days that participants without the trackers managed. The results were even more pronounced among participants who were the least active to begin with, or who were overweight.
The study highlights the way in which wearable technology has a real-life influence on people’s overall health and wellbeing.
Speaking about the results, the chief executive of the non-profit health body Ukactive, Steven Ward, said the effects of incorporating wearable tech are far-reaching.
“This unparalleled research proves that inspiring physical activity on a global scale is not only possible, but deliverable,” said Ward.